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Your Horses Routine Care

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  • Original Poster

    I should clarify.

    What I meant by built a little crooked is that she is not text book perfect confirmation. Her legs could be a little straighter, but it is not obvious.


    • #22
      There is this phenomenon at some barns where the amount of maintenance your horse requires is some sort of status symbol. It seems the more your horse "needs," the better your horse must be. When you combine it with the guilty absentee-parent complex many boarder-owners have, it can get out of control.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm all for maintenance and preventative maintenance as needed. But Pookie doesn't need 42 supplements, quarterly joint injections, corrective shoes, and regular visits from the masseuse and acupuncturist just to prove that he/she is a "good" horse.
      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


      • #23
        My one gelding doesn't have the best back conformation and gets back sore anytime his work load increases (usually spring), when he's in heavy work, or when it's really cold. Basically, without regular chiropracting, he would always be sore. He gets done every time the chiropractor is out, usually every 4-5 weeks. He also gets monthly legend.

        My other gelding is older and slightly arthritic. He gets hock injections every 6 months or so, which make a HUGE difference in his soundness. He's not in hard work though and isn't asked to really use himself, so he gets chiropracted rarely. If he's a bit stiff or crooked, it doesn't really matter.


        • #24
          My beloved 5-year-old mare is my first horse, so I'm still sorting out what is value-added and what isn't. I honestly don't know where I stand on everything yet, so for now I tend to err on the side of "more is better" and "fix little things now to avoid big vet bills later." She gets:

          -- lots of daily turnout, with a buddy
          -- a multivitamin, SmartOmega and electrolyte supplements (like me, she's on a perpetual diet, bless her heart) ETA: and I've had the vet check her nutrient/mineral levels a couple times, plan to do that once a year or so
          -- really good, well-rounded training
          -- shoes in front because she needs them (slightly thin soles upfront)
          -- dental 2x annually, might go up to quarterly as she seems to get sharp fast
          -- regular and appropriate deworming, fecals and vaccinations, of course
          -- saddle fit every couple months (she's growing a lot)
          -- chiro or massage each month or so, alternating
          -- I ice her hocks after every hard ride except in winter, sometimes front legs
          -- regular slightly-over-the-top grooming/mini-massage/butt-scratching/stretching/pampering sessions from me

          No injections. I plan to xray points of potential concern every year or so and defer to my vet on when, if ever, I need to start injections.

          I'm curious about Back On Track but haven't made up my mind about whether to invest in it yet.

          If there is anything I haven't thought of that I should know about, I'd love to hear about it!!!


          • #25
            My young mare gets basics (floats, de-wormers after fecal tests, regular farrier work, vaccinations etc) plus daily supplements.

            I have her on:
            - a hoof supplement because her feet need major improvement
            - a vitamin E supplement because the county I live in is naturally vit E deficient and she only gets limited access to fresh grass
            - SmartTendon as I am more worried about soft tissues than joints but is also contains MSM.

            In the summer I will be putting her on an electrolyte. It's very hot and humid here so she will be sweating quite a bit every day.

            I may eventually have a massage therapist look at her once I've got the saddle fit issues worked out.


            • #26
              Just ask your vet. Mine was here yesterday to do Spring shots and suggested an adjustment for my guy.


              • #27
                The best maintenance plan you can have is a regular veterinary evaluation. My vet watches my horse go on hard and soft ground, straight and circle, and under saddle doing his normal job twice a year. If she seems something, we flex him, or x-ray, or ultrasound, or whatever we need to get some information. Then we discuss what if any additional support he needs to keep doing his job.


                • #28
                  My horse is in moderate to hard work 5-6 days/week, training PSG. Many people at my stable regularly do chiro, acupuncture, and massage work, Adequan or other joint injections, and I think everyone is on various supplements. A few people have some crazy massage machine as well.

                  When my horse started bucking over the winter I had a massage therapist come, but she said she couldn't see any issues and the massage didn't seem to make any difference. Between reports from the vet, massage therapist, and saddle fitter, he doesn't seem to have any physical issues, so the bucking sadly seemed to be about the weather + my riding I was really hoping there was something else I could blame aside from myself.

                  Now he just gets joint supplements along with things like flax and Finishing Touch in addition to plain old farrier services every 6 weeks, vaccines, floating his teeth twice a year, and getting clipped in the fall. Aside from that, regular saddle fitting is the only extra thing I do because that really does affect him a lot - saddle fit can turn him from a monster to an angel and vice versa. I am open to chiro/massage/acupuncture but he doesn't seem to need them. I would avoid Adequan and other injectables until the need is clearly present due to the risk inherent in any injection process.

                  He also has a Back on Track blanket that his back seemed to like over the winter. He hates the cold.

                  The horses that do get a lot of care at my barn usually don't have any specific issues, it is just preventative and I suspect that sometimes the owner's feelings benefit more than the horse. But even so, I don't think anyone is making any financial sacrifices for these services and the horses seem happy, so what's the harm?


                  • #29
                    "My own experience of chiropractic is that it does nothing unless there is one particular, focal problem that can be addressed, which I've had happen to me twice with great relief." Quote- Deltawave.

                    Well said.
                    In my case the relief was wonderful, and working eith that particular chiropracter helped enormously. Others? Forget it.

                    Tried Cosequin-for me-no change. I do like my NASAIDS, and use them for my horses. Other than specific medications for specific conditions, my guys survive on lots of hay, minimal grain, and vitamins in winter.( I have to do something!)
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • #30
                      I'm at a barn where there are some horses on a variety of supplements and/or treatments and some on none. Workloads vary as well from pasture pets to fairly competitive lower-level eventers (Novice-Training). Everyone shares information and there is more cooperation rather than pressure/status to be using certain supplements/treatments or certain amounts of supplements/treatments.

                      My gelding is 12 years old and we do very intro level eventing (aiming for our first event at starter this year). He has mild arthritis, diagnosed via vet flexions, but has always been sound. He has been barefoot the past year, but we will be putting shoes on when the ground dries up a bit as he had trouble last year when the ground got hard (before I get flamed: I got injured at the end of the summer and his workload basically went down to nothing - just light arena work with a leaser - which was the reason for staying barefoot last year as he was staying off the trails and not jumping). He gets his teeth floated regularly, chiro every 3 months, and massage as needed. He gets a bit stiff in his poll/neck occasionally and has knocked some other areas out of alignment. Saddle fit has been also been checked and will be checked again in a couple of months.

                      For supplements, I've found he does best on SmartFlex Senior (herb-free). We tried Cosequin and I didn't see a big difference in him while he was on it. I also had him do two loading doses of Adequan, six months apart, last year. He was particularly stiff coming back into work after a period of stall rest (bad medical colic) and then again after my injury. Since then, and using the SmartFlex Senior, I've seen no need to do another round of Adequan.

                      I guess my philosophy is do what works for your horse. If it works and your horse is sound/happy, why change? At the same time, I try to keep myself open-minded to other treatments, supplements, options, etc. that others may be using and may be out there. I never know when I'll find something that works better or is more cost-effective.


                      • #31
                        - Chiro every 6 weeks
                        - Farrier every 6 weeks
                        - Saddle fitting 2-3 times a year
                        - Joint injections as needed (so far just once for hocks and SI)
                        - MSM, Cosequin, Fish oil, Flax, and Fasttrack in AM feed

                        I have a lot of faith in my chiropractor and he really knows my girl. He will pinpoint subtle things I've noticed on the ground or undersaddle within minutes of starting to work on her. I can see by how much she adjusts and her reactions during the adjustment that she really appreciates and needs regular treatment.

                        I haven't been blown away by the massage therapy I've seen but I think that is more tied to not finding the right person. If I ever find someone I'd like to get them in a regular rotation.

                        I treat my mare like a horse but she's also in her late teens so I like providing more support when possible.


                        • #32
                          Don't get involved in the arms race. Every horse is different--feed and care for the one YOU have.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Cindyg View Post
                            Don't succumb to peer pressure! If it's not broke, don't fix it!
                            THIS! There are some very earnest ammies who feel that "more" care always equals "better" care--and they have no problem paying the bills for all the bells and whistles. I feel that the only time "maintenance" of the invasive kind should be performed on a SOUND horse is for a high-value animal performing very demanding work---3'6" and above, 3-day at Preliminary and above, or Dressage above 4th Level. Supplements should be by vet prescription for a specific condition that actually exists only.

                            What you want/need to do in order to keep a lame or marginally/occasionally sound horse in some kind of work is a more complicated question. Just make sure the treatments are actually warranted, are actually proven to work (as in, you see a real difference) and don't be sucked in by snake-oil advertising.


                            • #34
                              I agree, lots of different approaches and obviously a lot depends on what the horse is doing and what your plans for him are? Our horses are competitive athletes (dressage) and so I believe in treating them as such. Generally, all of our horses get iced on all four legs (cannons and hocks) as well as the centurion blanket (electro/magnetic therapy blanket) after every workout. (In a recent talk Dr. Hilary Clayton said that regular icing is known to prevent suspensory injuries and my vet is big on icing as an injury preventative so we do this religiously). All of the horses from 5 yrs on get Adequan once per month as a preventative as well and all are on Corta Flex though I have gone back and forth with the feed through joint supplements. I think if you are going to spend the money and have to choose, the Adequan/Hyonate gives a better bang for your buck. Massage therapy: the horses love it, I am not so sure it make a big difference....

                              It also probably goes without saying but we are big believers in excellent footing and excellent farrier care and to me these are must haves in terms of managing equine athletes and keeping them sound. If we are talking about feeding we are also of the opinion that horses need to have roughage in front of them almost all the time to maintain good health...so the easy keepers are fed grass/timothy hay five times per day and the others get a more calorie dense hay free choice.

                              When it comes to the older horses with known issues obviously those horses are dealt with a bit differently/require more maintenance. The horse that are working at or close to the FEI levels do generally require more invasive maintenance (joint injections), sometimes Tildren, more Adequan ect to keep them tip top. Really depends on the horse though....

                              I think it takes a real team to keep a performance horse fit, healthy and sound and I believe that preventative maintenance plays a significant role. Why wait until a horse is "broke" to fix him when there are ways in which you can increase the chances of him lasting longer and/or prevent injury/illness??

                              "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by JB View Post

                                My point is - horses do things while we aren't watching, and it's body issues which can to easily creep up and suddenly blindside you, when it might well have been something you could have prevented with having a chiro or MT take a good look at the horse even just twice a year.
                                Yep. Also, have you moved up a level/increased work load recently? My TB had been feeling a bit off, so to speak, and acting weird...not wanting to travel straight, being super braced...when the chiro was out yesterday she discovered his jaw was out, his right hip was out, and his whole back was super tight. No falls or casting of himself that we saw, but who knows. He does play hard with his neighbor over their corral fences.

                                My friend's gelding was super out of whack as well..different symptoms, but same thing. We never saw a fall or injury, but his whole body was tense, tight, and just "out".

                                What had changed in both horses was work load/types. They have been using their bodies differently and are in much, MUCH better shape than they were a few weeks ago. They are being asked to carry themselves properly. There was no significant "event" that we knew about, but they still had surprising results.
                                runnjump86 Instagram

                                Horse Junkies United guest blogger


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
                                  My TB had been feeling a bit off, so to speak, and acting weird...not wanting to travel straight, being super braced...when the chiro was out yesterday she discovered his jaw was out, his right hip was out, and his whole back was super tight.
                                  The vast majority of horses rotate their mandible in the same direction when they are you eating. As a result most horses sharpen up more on their right side then on their left. This sharpness eventually becomes painful as the enamel points cut the soft tissue of the cheek. Many horses will find ways to travel that alleviate the discomfort and bracing or stiffening are common complaints.


                                  • #37
                                    I'm a minimal interventionist and leave well alone.
                                    My horses are out 24/7. They eat out, run out, and get saddled up for endurance training. They eat what I call a muesli mix and added salt daily along with all the grass they can eat. They get rugged in the cooler weather. Yearly teeth checks, I trim them myself, and their hooves are just fine. Worming etc is a given - twice a year.

                                    But what I DO do, is a regular/weekly Masterson bodywork session. Buying the book/dvd was the best thing I have done, and it keeps me informed as to how the horses are feeling. Mostly, they are 100%, and just love their sessions, but I did get the chiro to work on my boy's SI after he slipped over in the paddock showing off - such a thump on his side! - and he was guarding his back afterwards. The bodywork tells me that he is fine.

                                    So, I would say, be confident that YOUR horse is fine. Don't get caught up in the supplements/alternative therapists competition - unless you want to of course lol.


                                    • #38
                                      My mare had an injury a couple of years ago that with chiro and accupuncture, she was able to come back to full work( for us). She gets a joint supplement and a couple times per year she gets chiro/accupuncture. Other than that she is ridden about 5 days per week usually at least 2 of those out on trail. We dabble in different things from low level dressage, lots of trail riding and trail competitions, some low level CT's, hunter paces, cattle work, whatever strikes my fancy. My mare is pretty gung ho and usually doesn't "complain" if she is having problems. I have had both chiro and am currently receiving accupuncture about once per month for a chronic injury, so I know it makes you feel better.


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Toothgrinder View Post
                                        The vast majority of horses rotate their mandible in the same direction when they are you eating. As a result most horses sharpen up more on their right side then on their left. This sharpness eventually becomes painful as the enamel points cut the soft tissue of the cheek. Many horses will find ways to travel that alleviate the discomfort and bracing or stiffening are common complaints.
                                        He just had his teeth done in January. They definitely weren't pretty, but it had also been a little over a year since he was last done (not my doing, previous owner). Vet suggested a 6 month cycle for him, which I agree with.

                                        Right now he gets adjusted by the chiro every 6 weeks until he doesn't have much change, then every 12 weeks. The difference I felt after the first adjustment was tremendous...his back was actually swinging! Both times since then he has had enough things out of place to warrant a 6 week schedule. I see the chiro once a month and feel amazing afterwards. I'm more than happy to keep both of my guys on a regular chiro schedule, especially since, *knock on wood*, they don't need many supplements.

                                        Both boys (8yo TB, 11yo Arab/QH, both eventers) get:
                                        Triple Crown Senior, different amounts
                                        TC 30% to balance out vitamins
                                        Glucosamine/MSM supplement
                                        And the TB gets Calf Manna until the bag runs out.
                                        runnjump86 Instagram

                                        Horse Junkies United guest blogger


                                        • #40
                                          I don't think that spending a bunch of money on any preventative injections, etc is necessary. If your horse has arthritis or a known issue, injections can be great- but there's no use in throwing money away.

                                          The best "preventative maintenance" is a good diet and regular exercise, including properly warming up and cooling down. Lots of walking at the beginning and end of a ride is probably one thing that tons of people skip that would help a lot of horses avoid injuries and post-ride swelling.

                                          Mine get an 80/20 Orchard/Alfalfa mix, Alfalfa/Bermuda Pellets, just enough TC Complete to mix my supplements with, and then an enzyme/probiotic/joint/herbal supplement (it's all one). I also get teeth done 2x/year, and chiro as needed when I feel there is a problem (usually a couple times a year). I ice legs after hard rides, and always lots and lots of walking to warm up and cool out, otherwise my main horse has a tendency to get stiff, although she seems to be better lately.